In the vast desert of Northern New Mexico, if you listen carefully, you might hear a noise much louder than the whistling of the wind: some underground pounding, produced by a man with a pick axe.
The name of this man is Ra Paulette, and his vocation for the past 25 years has been to sculpt and shape the sandy rock in order to create underground caves in the desert of New Mexico.
Ra Paulette doesn’t consider himself obsessed with this work. He simply thinks that when you love to do something, you want to do it all the time, and he sincerely hopes that he has managed to create masterpieces that will take everybody’s breath away. He prefers to think of himself a magician who likes to play with space, whether of smaller or larger dimensions. He doesn’t have a sculpting degree, and he’s not a structural engineer either. He is simply a man who has found his true vocation.
The narrow entrance to these caves doesn’t predict the impressive dimensions and the majesty one will find inside. The first sculpture you can see when you enter is called “The Tree of Human Kindness”, and it took 900 work hours for Ra Paulette to bring it to its current spectacular shape.
So far, Ra Paulette dug 12 caves, and he transformed them into architectural wonders. He has been sponsored by different people who wish to live in spaces which are completely silent. One of these caves was dug alongside the river, and it is equipped with electricity, an attic and a bathroom with running water. Even though it took the artist two years to finish it, he only asked for $12 per hour. Ra Paulette doesn’t practice his vocation to become rich; he is simply happy that he can spend his life creating such beautiful artwork.
Surprisingly, this unique place was unknown to the public until the producers of a documentary spent three years in the desert, filming every single moment of Ra Paulette’s work. The resulting film has been nominated at the prestigious Academy Awards, and all of a sudden the artist became very famous.
A very successful real estate agent brought to market two of the caves, along with the surrounding area, for the exorbitant sum of about $1 million, money that Ra Paulette doesn’t really want. His last project, entitled Magnum Opus, is the most ambitious one so far due to its impressive size. He is using all of his skills and knowledge he has gained so far, and he is planning to create a wonderful place that will serve as a gathering and recreation space for community events, socialization and relaxation, and will be equipped with a swimming pool and a waterfall.
At 67 years of age, Ray predicts that his masterpiece will be finished by the time he turns 70, and he will be ready to show it to the world. He also hopes that everybody who wants some peace and solitude will find the new cave the place of his or her dreams.